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Music in the operating room: good or bad for patient safety?

Many people like to have music on in the background while they are working. Medical professionals are no exception to this. Music can end up showing up in many places in hospitals. In fact, there is often music playing in operating rooms during surgeries.

Patients are in an incredibly vulnerable position when they are being operated on. Thus, when it comes to anything in an operating room, even music, it is very important to think about its potential patient safety impacts.

One of the reasons some surgical professionals like to have music playing during surgical procedures is that it can help block out potential audio distractions, like background noise. Thus, music in the operating room can sometimes help with medical professional focus during surgical procedures. More focused medical professionals may be less likely to make careless mistakes during a surgery. Thus, one could see ways in which music during surgery could potentially have patient safety benefits.

However, music in the operating room could also pose some problems. This can be seen in a recent study done by researchers in the United Kingdom.

In the study, researchers reviewed video footage of surgical procedures. In many of the surgeries, there was music on during the procedure. A couple of problems that the researchers observed regarding music in the operating room are that it can sometimes make communication between surgical team members more difficult and that it can sometimes be a source of frustration/tension within a surgical team.

One could see how communication problems and tension within a surgical team during a surgery could have possible negative consequences for patient safety, as such things could potentially open the door a little wider for medical errors to occur.

Thus, music in the operating room has the potential for both upsides and downsides when it comes to patient safety. What the study's lead researcher recommended is that surgical teams, before surgeries, have a discussion about music in the operating room and make a group decision regarding whether to play music and the specifics on the music (such as type and volume).

What do you think of music during surgeries? Do you think it is generally a good or a bad thing for surgical patient safety? What policies would you like to see hospitals here in Arizona have when it comes to music in the operating room?

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